Saturday, October 5, 2013
Washington needs a Mediator!
Indulge me for a moment on the crisis facing our nation. In a dozen years of mediating, I've seen this play many times. The parties have drawn their proverbial lines in the sand and have taken intractable positions. Communication is all but ended and no one is facilitating a discussion (at least that the public can see). If our government is to resume operation, a mediator is necessary. As the late Roger Fisher observed, when interests are directly opposed, parties should use objective criteria to resolve their differences. Differences here have sparked a battle of wills, destroying any beneficial relationships between those governing. This is not only inefficient, but unlikely to produce agreement. Decisions based on reasonable standards make it easier for the parties to agree-- not to mention helping to preserve decorum and perhaps reminding public officials they serve the American people, which is what they were elected to do. The key may be to develop objective criteria that is both legitimate and practical. Widely accepted findings, professional standards, or legal precedent are possible sources of objective criteria. Testing for objectivity can be as straightforward as asking both sides to be bound by those standards. Rather than agreeing in substance, the parties may create criteria for resolving this crisis. A mediator could resist the typical pressures of politics and facilitate stubborn leaders refusing to be reasonable, shifting the discussion from substantive to procedural criteria in the search for a mutual, self-determined solution. God Bless America.